I have heard so many people say that they have no faith in humanity, that we are evil at our core. Facebook feeds are full of posts titled “10 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity.” I’ve been guilty of looking at those posts, wanting to see a little positivity in the midst of so much overall dissatisfaction.
I have to say though, I have never truly believed that humanity is inherently bad. Even when I could come up with no sweeping proof of the good that lies within us all, I still had faith in the human condition.
Then today, I realized something amazing. Every one of us has more faith in humanity than we often claim.
When we walk out of our homes every day, we have faith that things will go more or less as planned.
We get in our cars, trusting that they will safely carry us to our destinations. We believe that the people who manufactured the parts of those vehicles did so with our needs in mind. We share the road with people who we believe will follow traffic laws and avoid collisions. Although accidents happen, we do not anticipate them every time we drive.
We go out for meals, trusting that the food is of a certain quality and that the people preparing it are conscious of our wellbeing. We see doctors and take our beloved pets to veterinarians, having faith in the ability and honesty of those healers. We go to sleep in our homes, never worrying that the roof may crash down on us thanks to faulty carpentry. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable, knowing that we will be hurt at times, but realizing that the risk is worth it. We do this because when we know that most of the time, we will be accepted on some level. If we stop to think about the probability, there is only a very slight chance that we will find ourselves in conversation with someone who will intentionally hurt us.
We live our lives, not in constant apprehension or fear of other people, but generally accepting that we all want to go about our days in peace. We do not expect a great catastrophe at every turn. If we truly believed that every other person means to do us harm, many of us would die hungry and alone in our homes. Most of our interactions are positive or neutral.
We remember the time that man cut us off in traffic and the day our boss pointed out our flaws. How often do we think about the coworkers that smile and greet us every day, or the people who politely wait their turn at stop signs? No one forces us to function within the lines of appropriate social interaction. Sure, we may lose our job if we do not follow the rules of food safety or test each moving part in an automobile. We may get a ticket and pay a fine if we run a red light. But how often do you think to yourself, when cooking someone’s meal, “I better make sure this chicken reaches the right temperature because I’d hate to disappoint the health department”? Do you avoid running over the person crossing the street in front of you just because it is against the law? How often are you purposefully hateful to someone just because there won’t be immediate repercussions?
We all care a little more than we sometimes admit, and we surely trust a lot more than we might claim on a bad day.
As you go about your day, think of all the times you place your trust in others, often strangers. And with that perspective in mind, how often do people really let you down? I’ll bet it’s a lot less often than you thought.